Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., No. IP 90-200-C.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
Writing for the CourtMcKINNEY
Citation740 F. Supp. 1376
PartiesG. Mae DICKINSON, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The INDIANA STATE ELECTION BOARD, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. IP 90-200-C.
Decision Date27 June 1990

740 F. Supp. 1376

G. Mae DICKINSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The INDIANA STATE ELECTION BOARD, et al., Defendants.

No. IP 90-200-C.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

June 27, 1990.


740 F. Supp. 1377

Stephen Laudig, Indianapolis, William R. Groth, Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Baird, Indianapolis, Richard J. Swanson, Segal and Macey, Indianapolis, for plaintiffs.

Alan K. Mills, Barnes & Thornburg, Indianapolis, for state defendants.

William M. Evans, Bose McKinney & Evans, Indianapolis, for Rule 19 defendants.

ENTRY AND ORDER

McKINNEY, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court for a determination of whether principles of equity

740 F. Supp. 1378
or the doctrine of laches bar the plaintiffs' claim. The plaintiffs brought this action pursuant to § 2 et seq. of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973 et seq., alleging the 1981 reapportionment of Indiana by the Indiana General Assembly, establishing Districts 49 and 51, was the product of racial gerrymandering

The parties have submitted briefs to this Court citing numerous decisions that discuss equity and laches. These cases reveal that courts faced with these issues have not reached uniform results. Before discussing these cases and today's holding, however, it is necessary to set forth a brief factual background of this case. With this outline established, the Court first will comment on the presence and absence of certain parties in this suit. Next, the relevant voting rights case law will be discussed. Finally, key principles will be extracted from these cases and applied to the facts at bar in resolving this matter.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This action was commenced March 2, 1990. Due to time constraints created by the upcoming November elections, and the seriousness which cloaks allegations of voting discrimination, this cause has been given priority on this Court's docket.1

The plaintiffs in this cause are registered voters from Marion County, some of whom are candidates for the Indiana House of Representatives from Districts 49 and 51.2 The defendants fall into two categories. In one category is the Indiana State Election Board ("Board"), Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, Alan K. Mills, and Donald B. Cox. ("State defendants"). Bayh is named in his official capacity as governor and as an ex officio member of the Board. Mills and Cox are named in their official capacities as Board members.3 Though named as defendants, the State defendants interests' in reality are more closely aligned with the plaintiffs' interests. The implications of this fact are discussed herein.

In the other category are defendants Paul S. Mannweiler, John S. Keeler, and John C. Ruckelshaus III ("Rule 19 defendants"). These defendants are candidates for State Representative in House District 49 and were named in this action as defendants pursuant to Rule 19(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It is these defendants who have raised the issue of whether this action should be dismissed based on principles of equity or laches,4

740 F. Supp. 1379
and without whom the necessary "case or controversy" element would be missing from this litigation

Districts 49 and 51 are three-member districts from which state representatives are elected on an at-large basis. The districts are split north-south by an occasionally irregular boundary along 38th Street in Marion County. The southern boundary of District 49 serves as the northern boundary of District 51. According to 1980 census figures, on which the plaintiffs' complaint is based, District 49 is predominately white (78%), and District 51 is predominately black (61.2%). The majority racial group in each district has consistently elected candidates of its choice to the House.

The plaintiffs allege that Districts 49 and 51 are split along 38th Street in such a way that black voters are packed into the predominately black District 51 and submerged into the predominately white District 49, thus diluting blacks' voting strength. To remedy this situation, the plaintiffs propose that this Court create a new single-member district. The proposed district would be created, in part, by "trading" 10 precincts in District 49 south of 38th Street with nine precincts in District 51 north of 38th Street. The plaintiffs assert that black voters in the proposed district are sufficiently numerous and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member distrct.

The Rule 19 defendants assert this action is barred by principles of equity and the doctrine of laches. As for the equity argument, these defendants argue that granting remedial action is unwise for many reasons, including the cost, confusion, and general disruption of the election process that would result if this Court were to interfere in the rapidly approaching elections. In support of this contention, the Rule 19 defendants note that primary elections are completed, campaigns are underway, and the election machinery is in gear. Moreover, the defendants emphasize that the 1990 census currently is underway, and likely will result in another appointment.

In support of their laches argument, the defendants assert that in balancing the reasonableness of the plaintiffs' delay in bringing this action against the severity of the prejudice to the defendants, the Court should find this suit barred by laches. In particular, the Rule 19 defendants charge that the plaintiffs are guilty of inexcusable delay in bringing a suit in 1990 to challenge a 1981 apportionment plan, and that the resulting disruption of the election process would prejudice the defendants.

In response, the plaintiffs question whether laches is even available as a defense in an action brought under the Voting Rights Act. In addition, the plaintiffs argue that because the State defendants do not claim prejudice associated with the disruption of the election process, the Rule 19 defendants cannot independently claim prejudice.

II. PARTIES IN THIS ACTION

Before discussing laches and equity principles, the Court feels compelled to first share several thoughts on the presence and absence of parties in this suit, and perceived difficulties resulting therefrom. In particular, the Court questions whether, based on the parties now joined in this action, the Court has the power to Order the relief that might ultimately be required if the plaintiffs succeed on the merits. The question arises because the Indiana Generaly Assembly, the governmental body vested with the authority and responsibility to apportion House and Senate districts, is not a party to this action.

Article 4, § 5, of the Indiana Constitution provides in relevant part: "The General Assembly elected during the year in which a federal decennial census is taken shall fix by law the number of Senators and Representatives and apportion them among districts according to the number of inhabitants in each district, as revealed by that federal decennial census." Thus, the

740 F. Supp. 1380
clear language of § 5 provides that the General Assembly is responsible for apportionments every ten years

Accordingly, a problem surfaces in this action because the General Assembly is not a party to this action. As stated previously, named as defendants in this cause are the Board, Gov. Bayh, in his official capacity as governor and as an ex officio Board member, Mills and Cox, in their official capacities as Board members, and various candidates for House Districts 49 and 51. Therefore, this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the General Assembly as a whole. The fact that defendant Paul S. Mannweiler, for example, is an acting member (co-speaker) of the House, would not appear to provide this Court with jurisdiction over the entire General Assembly.

The plaintiffs apparently rest their jurisdictional foundation on the Board. However, the Board is not empowered to engage in reapportionment. The powers and duties of the Board are set forth in Ind. Code § 3-6-4-12. Among the powers given to the Board by this provision is the power to administer the election laws of the state (Ind.Code § 3-6-4-12(a)(1)) and the power to adopt rules to govern the fair, legal, and orderly conduct of elections (Ind. Code § 3-6-4-12(a)(2).

These provisions, however, do not supplant the General Assembly's constitutionally decreed responsibility for conducting periodic apportionments. The Board is merely an administrative body created by the legislature and as such has no power either to enact the law or declare a law unconstitutional or unenforceable for any reason. While the Board certainly is entitled to its opinion on whether an existing apportionment plan violates voting rights, it is not constitutionally empowered to grant relief.

The Indiana Supreme Court recognized this problem in State v. Marion Superior Court, 243 Ind. 307, 185 N.E.2d 18 (1962). In Marion Superior Court, the issue was whether a state court had jurisdiction to order the Board to reapportion the state and conduct an election accordingly. The Supreme Court determined it did not, and issued a writ of mandamus accordingly. In reaching this conclusion, the court stated that the authority vested in the Board "does not, under any theory, vest the board with the power and authority to make a reapportionment of the General Assembly or to conduct an election in any manner other than as provided by the election laws of the state ..." Id. 185 N.E.2d at 20. Thus, the Indiana Supreme Court has observed the inherent problems associated with the relief which the plaintiffs seek from the defendants in the case at bar.

The plaintiffs' complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that House Districts 49 and 51 violate § 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and a permanent injunction against holding additional elections for State Representative therein. As this suit has progressed, the plaintiffs also have made it clear that they are asking this Court to create a new, single-member...

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5 practice notes
  • Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., No. IP 90-200-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • December 8, 1992
    ...of the plaintiffs' claim was improper, and it denied their request for relief in its entirety. Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., 740 F.Supp. 1376, 1380-82 The Court also held that the plaintiffs' suit was barred by laches and equity.5 First, the 817 F. Supp. 744 Court held that the p......
  • Thomas v. Bryant, No. 19-60133
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 3, 2019
    ..., 861 F. Supp. 1516 (D. Colo. 1994), rev’d , 97 F.3d 1303 (10th Cir. 1996) (Colorado House); Dickinson v. Ind. State Election Bd. , 740 F. Supp. 1376 (S.D. Ind. 1990), rev’d in part, vacated in part , 933 F.2d 497 (7th Cir. 1991) (Indiana House); Mirrione v. Anderson , 717 F.2d 743 (2d Cir.......
  • Gonzales v. North Tp. of Lake County, Civ. No. H83-402.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • July 28, 1992
    ...Rules of Evidence. Toney v. Burris, 829 F.2d 622, 626-27 (7th Cir.1987); Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., 800 F. Supp. 682 740 F.Supp. 1376, 1390 (S.D.Ind.1990). See also Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir.1987) (court may take judicial notice of fact......
  • Briggs v. Newberry County School Dist., Civ. A. No. 8:92-0179-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • June 9, 1992
    ...Facts subject to judicial notice may be considered by a court on a motion to dismiss. Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., 740 F.Supp. 1376 (S.D.Ind.1990), rev'd on other grounds, 933 F.2d 477 (7th Cir.1991); Nejad v. United States, 724 F.Supp. 753 (C.D.Cal.1989). When entertaining a mo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., No. IP 90-200-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • December 8, 1992
    ...of the plaintiffs' claim was improper, and it denied their request for relief in its entirety. Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., 740 F.Supp. 1376, 1380-82 The Court also held that the plaintiffs' suit was barred by laches and equity.5 First, the 817 F. Supp. 744 Court held that the p......
  • Thomas v. Bryant, No. 19-60133
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 3, 2019
    ..., 861 F. Supp. 1516 (D. Colo. 1994), rev’d , 97 F.3d 1303 (10th Cir. 1996) (Colorado House); Dickinson v. Ind. State Election Bd. , 740 F. Supp. 1376 (S.D. Ind. 1990), rev’d in part, vacated in part , 933 F.2d 497 (7th Cir. 1991) (Indiana House); Mirrione v. Anderson , 717 F.2d 743 (2d Cir.......
  • Gonzales v. North Tp. of Lake County, Civ. No. H83-402.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • July 28, 1992
    ...Rules of Evidence. Toney v. Burris, 829 F.2d 622, 626-27 (7th Cir.1987); Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., 800 F. Supp. 682 740 F.Supp. 1376, 1390 (S.D.Ind.1990). See also Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir.1987) (court may take judicial notice of fact......
  • Briggs v. Newberry County School Dist., Civ. A. No. 8:92-0179-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • June 9, 1992
    ...Facts subject to judicial notice may be considered by a court on a motion to dismiss. Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd., 740 F.Supp. 1376 (S.D.Ind.1990), rev'd on other grounds, 933 F.2d 477 (7th Cir.1991); Nejad v. United States, 724 F.Supp. 753 (C.D.Cal.1989). When entertaining a mo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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